PowerPoint slides play an important role in successful presentations. But before you load up your deck with information, take a step back and approach the task with a scrutinizing eye.
As we’ve mentioned time and again, your slides should serve as a visual aid. The visuals you present to the audience should contribute to the delivery of your core message.
All too often, presenters tend to create PowerPoint slides that are overloaded with too much information. Instead of using their PowerPoint deck as a way to highlight main points, it becomes the focal point of the presentation.
According to research, this becomes a problem for both you and your audience.
Presentation science: Why simplicity is crucial to PowerPoint slides
In a study conducted by Christof Wecker, overloaded PowerPoint slides distracted the audience from listening to the presenter’s explanation.
Because they were being shown slides loaded with information, the attention of the audience is split between two things: struggling to keep up with what the presenter was saying, or reading the slides and ignoring the explanation.
Their concentration and ability to absorb information became compromised.
In cases like these, Wecker noted that it might be better to just present with no visuals at all. However, the real solution is creating simpler and more concise slides. All you have to do is focus on the most basic and crucial points of your content.
When your slides highlight key takeaways, you can help the audience reach maximum information retention.
As social science blogger, Eric Horowitz wrote to explain the study,
Wecker found that the suppression of oral information was correlated with the subjective importance a person placed on slides. In other words, slides interfere with the retention of oral information because people often judge information on slides to be more important.
Tips and tricks: How to make PowerPoint slides that work
That said, it’s easy to see why your overloaded PowerPoint slides have been putting audiences to sleep. To keep your presentations comprehensible, make sure that your visuals remain simple and straight to the point. There are plenty of ways to achieve simplicity in PowerPoint design. Here are just a few of the most basic tips:
- Draft your ideas before attempting to make a PowerPoint deck. Outline the points you want to make and lay them out in a storyboard. This will give you the opportunity to arrange your presentation properly and edit out unnecessary details.
- You can keep your slides minimal by limiting your use of text. Examine the content you have and try to get your point across in quick and simple sentences. Images can also be used to describe ideas that are a bit more complex and might require longer explanations.
- Some PowerPoint features can also help keep your slides streamlined and simple. SmartArt allows you to easily turn data into charts and other graphics. You can also utilize PowerPoint’s Note section to keep detailed explanations out of your main slides.
“Add Speaker Notes to Your Slides.” Office Blogs. Accessed January 8, 2015.
“Create a SmartArt Graphic.” Office Blogs. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Horowitz, Eric. “Why You Need Concise Powerpoint Slides – Peer-reviewed by My Neurons.” Peer-reviewed by My Neurons. February 18, 2012. Accessed January 8, 2015.
“How to Organize Your Ideas with a Presentation Storyboard.” SlideGenius, Inc.. September 1, 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
“Visual Simplicity Is Captivating in Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc.. September 30, 2014. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Wecker, Christof. “Slide Presentations as Speech Suppressors: When and Why Learners Miss Oral Information.” Elsevier 59, no. 2 (2012): 260-73. Accessed January 8, 2015.
Featured Image: D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr